Senator H. Alexander Smith 91 to the Secretary of State

Dear Dean: I had hoped to see you before this to have a chance to talk to you personally about my experience in the Far East. I see by the papers that you are leaving at once for Paris for the conference with the British and French, and therefore there will be no opportunity for me to see you before you go. I realize the pressure you are under and want to send you my very best wishes as you undertake these important deliberations.

There are two matters I wanted particularly to emphasize in my talk with you, and I can state them in this letter, with the hope that I can elaborate my reasons at a later date.

(1) I am strongly of the conviction that we should not recognize the Chinese communist government at this time, and furthermore I hope it will be possible for you with your eloquence and diplomacy to persuade the British not to do so. From conversations with the British authorities in Hong Kong, I was convinced that they were thinking exclusively in terms of (a) defense of Hong Kong, and at any cost retaining it in British possession, and (b) the pressure of their commercial interests in Shanghai and Hong Kong to recognize the Commies, so that traditional British trade can go on as before.

I was also impressed, however, with the statements of the British representatives that they felt whatever stand was taken, should be taken with the United States and not apart from the United States. I feel, therefore, that our strong stand against recognition would have a weighty effect upon the British position. In any event, however, I urge that we do not make the mistake, as I see it, of recognizing the present Chinese communist government. Many things can happen in the next few months.

(2) The second important conviction that came to me from my trip was that under no conditions should we let Formosa fall into the hands of the Chinese communists or under the domination of Russia. This of course presents a very difficult question, and it is problematical whether the Nationalist government could defend Formosa without further aid from us. From the standpoint of our own national security, however, I was convinced from my visit on the ground and getting the feel of our strategical island bases that the occupation of Formosa by hostile forces would definitely threaten our security. I [Page 174]did not arrive at “this conclusion from any strategical knowledge of my own, which I make no claim to, but from the insistence of our military and naval forces wherever I went that this was a very dangerous issue and that we could not afford to pass it up.92

There have been many suggested formulas to handle this delicate matter and I am confident that we can find one on which Ave can all agree, and which will be in the best interests of the Taiwans themselves. I want to have the opportunity to review these possibilities with you and with our Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees.

I am sending this line to you at this time because I feel that these matters are urgent and all of us who have responsibility for our foreign policy should be working together and in complete understanding.

With kindest personal regards and best wishes for the success of your trip, I remain

Always cordially yours,

H. Alexander Smith
  1. Of New Jersey, Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who had returned from a personal trip to survey conditions in the Far East.
  2. For correspondence regarding Formosa, see pp. 261 ff